The other day I went downstairs to the “Potting Room”. I live in a Retirement facility and one of our perks, among others, is a Potting Room. It is where we can take our pots and do some re-potting, or potting up for the first time. Those of us with indoor plants LOVE this room. Whatever we need is there for our use, as long as we keep the room clean and inviting.

The biggest boon is the huge barrel of Potting Soil. However, the other day when I went to get some soil for my pot and opened the barrel, it was filled with GARDEN SOIL! Uh, oh! I used it as it was the only soil available, but it is definitely not the soil of choice for our indoor plants. So WHY NOT?

There are various types of soil. Let’s see what they are and how we, as gardeners, use them. First remember it is SOIL, NOT DIRT! Soil is where you plant things. Dirt is that stuff you wash off your boots, or stamp off your shoes, and wash your hands and scrub your fingernails to get rid of!!! Remember the distinction! So, there are different TYPES of soil??? Sure…let’s talk about that.

Plain old soil we find outside when we plant our bulbs, plants, shrubs and trees. It has what nature, or the previous land owner, put there. We’ll find stone fragments, worms, soil, and Lord knows what else there, along with air and water.

Garden Soil is what we generally buy to add to our garden in order to make it look, and be, healthy. As this University of Maine Bulletin indicates, this is a complicated term!

We can also avail ourselves of COMPOST. Compost is a mixture of organic matter, as from leaves and manure, that has decayed or has been digested by organisms. It is used to improve soil structure and provide nutrients. Compost can be generated in the garden, or purchased. If you’d like to try doing it in your home garden, here are some good composting ideas for you to pursue suggested by Penn State University Extension. (With a picture of compost from Cornell Extension Service.)

Potting Soil is used exclusively in pots for indoor plants, or pots you may keep on your deck, or even pots in the garden. Potting soil is lighter in consistency and weight (making it easier to move around, among other things) and often does not even have any soil (as we know it) involved at all! If you are really interested in finding out more click here! Potting Soil is quite different from Garden Soil! Here’s a photo of what it looks like. You can see the grains of vermiculite, etc.

There are other types of soils, but they are more than we need to discuss here. I hope I’ve clarified a few that we really USE in our garden or window-sill.

For those of you living in the Pacific Northwest, it looks like we’re in for a terrible heatwave!

Your plants will not be able to move into a nice air conditioned space. They have no way to move into the shade, unless they are already there. And they certainly will not be able to go to the fridge, grab a cold one, and sit down to relax where it’s cooler!

Remember them? You put them where they could take advantage of the sun. This weekend that will be a terrible location for them. What can you do?

You are the gardener. You are the one to keep them not only alive, but thriving. Over the next few days (or week) they will need to have WATER! And LOTS OF WATER!

Most of the places you will “google” will tell you to be careful of watering in the morning or the middle of the day, because it will burn the leaves. But, if you water at night, the leaves won’t dry out and will develop mildew. But, wait a minute. It’s not the leaves that need the water…its the roots!

The story here is, it doesn’t matter WHAT time of day you water the roots…just DO it! The trick is to just plain SOAK the garden. Set the hose on a gentle stream (so it doesn’t wash away the soil) and set it at the base of the plant for 10-20 minutes or so depending on the size of the plant. Let that water just soak down to the roots. Then move onto the next plant.

If you have potted plants in the garden, they’ll need extra, because they will dry out a lot faster as well. Just fill that pot up with water, and revisit it with the hose as needed.

Remember, this process will take awhile, which is why sometimes it’s just easier to let the hose run by itself while you busy yourself elsewhere!

This is why soaker hoses are so useful. Just turn them on and leave them for awhile!

I have spent the last 15 minutes trying to find a photo of someone soaking their garden-impossible! The are ALL spraying the plants…Do not do that. Instead, SOAK THOSE ROOTS!

The other day, one of my friends asked why our gardens were looking so colorless.  I said I thought it was probably because the flowers were between spring and summer, and just be patient.

Then, I went down to visit my garden, and YES!  My friend was right.  When I looked with a critical eye, she was correct…very little color and lots of height and just plain “scruff’.  I walked slowly looking at each garden carefully.  I have made a few observations, which the Master Gardener in me would like to share with you here.

First, there was no “June In Our Gardens” last year.  That was a time that promoted a sense of pride and excitement about our gardens.  Everyone knew their name was announcing whose garden folks were looking at.  So, we ALL took particular care of our  plantings.  We trimmed, we pruned, we fertilized, we mulched, we planted and we moved stuff to a better place.  How many of us have done that this year?  From the look of things, not too many of us.  We’ve gotten a bit lax.  

Now, Sunny Mondays are beginning.  AND, we will have our big picnic in July. Our gardens will be on full display.  Many of the attendees enjoy walking down our “garden path” and checking out our gardens. It’s up to us to make that stroll one of admiration and enjoyment! *Sunny Mondays, by the way, are Monday evening’s in the gardens with our beverage of choice and a shared snack. They are wonderful social events!

So what to do?

  • Stand back and take a very critical view of your garden!
  • Where are the dead blooms?  The ones needing desperately to be dead-headed.  Clip those blooms off.  BUT, remember when you prune to take that stem down either to the main stem, or even to the ground-depending on the plant.  But, be on the lookout for other new little flower buds and be sure to leave them! Here’s a wonderful site explaining just how to do this…with pictures! https://www.fiskars.com/en-us/gardening-and-yard-care/ideas-and-how-tos/pruning-and-trimming/deadheading-flowers
  • Once a plant is finished blooming it puts its energy either into making seeds, or strengthening the roots (or leaves).  I don’t think ANY of us are trying to develop seeds for next year’s plantings, so snip those spent blooms OFF!  When those seed heads are gone, the plant can concentrate on roots and leaves.  (There are of course, some plants that have beautiful seed heads…you decide if they should stay!)
  • There are some plants that have tall, straggly stems with a bloom or two at the top.  Is that what you want?  If not, cut those way down…maybe leaving a rosette of leaves at the bottom.
  • Any spring blooming bulbs can probably be cut back now.  Usually you wait until they have died back.  If yours are still green, leave them for a bit longer, but it they are looking sorry…it’s probably time to cut them back! Here’s another link with wonderful directions, also with pictures. https://www.thespruce.com/when-can-i-cut-browning-leaves-1402237
  • If you know the names of the plants in your gardens, label them.  People love to be able to identify the plants they are looking at.
  • Do some weeding.  Even in our gardens where we tend to use sterile soil, birds and little critters will still bring in weed seeds.
  • And since we’re mentioning weeds…What exactly IS a weed?  It is ANYTHING growing where you do NOT want it!
  • So, there you have it.  Let the gardening spirit come screaming out, grab those pruners (etc.) and tackle those gardens.  I guarantee you’ll LOVE what you see when you finish!

 Here’s to delightful and colorful gardens at Horizon House!

Dayliles belong to the genus Hemerocallis, a Greek word meaning “beautiful for a day”.  AND that they are!

Here is a picture of the small daylily I have in my garden.  I specifically got small ones, so their flowers are at the level of the other blooms that surround them. This one was photographed just as it was beginning to present me with flowers!  If you look carefully, you can see other buds peeking in among the hosta leaves behind it.

Daylilies come in different sizes, both in height and size of bloom, although generally the taller the stem, the larger the flower.  I must say, my smaller (shorter) plant has blooms that are pretty close in size to the larger daylilies I’ve had in the past. You can find them with about 15 inch stems, like mine, to ones towering to four feet!  The flowers themselves can be found from three to eight inches across!!! Colors vary from the common yellow to exotic colors that seem to change year to year. Look for what will fit specifically into YOUR garden.433863_130129193231_PC264705_PEACH_BLEND_

Daylilies should be in EVERY garden!  They are easy to plant; easy to care for; very pretty; and they multiply by careful spreading.  They don’t get out of control, or pop up in places you don’t want them.  They don’t need to be watered much, and seem to bloom FOREVER!

The only thing you should do with them, is to remove the spent flowers.  They are called DAY-lilies for a reason. They will bloom, and the bloom will whither, all in a day or so.  IF you don’t remove that spent bloom, it will fall off all by itself after about a week.  However, the plant looks much better if you don’t have to look at withered blooms, so pick them off when you see them.

If you’re off on a vacation or something, don’t worry about the daylilies, they will continue to make your garden look just wonderful!

It sounds like the plant will be all gone after a day, but these guys have MANY buds on at least one stem per plant.  As they age, the stems multiply and the blooms will come, and come and come.F021AF87-9333-4EF2-8B6D-5EABC0E9127C_1_105_c

The only real care that should be given is to prune off the stems after all the blooms are done.  They will look unsightly, and are not needed by the plant.   Also, these lilies need very little extra attention. However, they will appreciate a dose of compost every spring.  As you layer the rest of your garden with compost, don’t forget the daylilies.

Here is a very extensive link about planting, care, and anything else you might want to know about daylilies from the University of Minnesota Extension Service.  

The planting and care instruction given at this Minnesota web-site can be utilized where-ever daylilies are planted and grown.  Once you’ve had these wonderful plants in your garden, you’ll never garden again without them!

This morning, I went into our gardens to do a little filming, in order to make a video of our own gardens for our “Virtual June In Our Gardens”.  It was an eye-opener.

Most gardeners need to give their gardens a good, objective look!  What I saw was a LOT of plants that were needing to be dead-headed.

The bulbs are done, and most of you are watching the leaves die back…which is the right thing to do, as those leaves give the bulbs nutrients for next years blooms.

BUT, there are many early, spring-blooming plants that have finished their “show”.  Be sure to trim those flowers off.  What they are doing now is developing seeds.  Unless you want the seeds, that is hard work for the plants.  They will put all their energy into making seeds, and the plants will soon look pretty “seedy”-pun intended!  This is probably where that expression came from. When you trim them, make your cut as close to the main part of the plant as you can.  This may be a branch, or even right to the ground, depending on the plant.

Then there are all those tall irises. With the rain, they are either bent over, or “gone by”.  If you carefully bend the spent bloom back toward the stem, it will come out leaving the stem and a newer bloom there ready to look pretty nice! You’ll need to support the stem as you do this, or you will break it.  If the iris is really tall, you may need to stake it.  Remember that for next year.

Have you got a Peony?  They are in the midst of their blooming.  If a bloom is done, trim it back to the next nearest cluster of leaves.  Don’t leave any empty stems.  They look pretty UGLY!  Stand back and look at the plant.  You might need to balance it out a bit.  That’s easy to do, just take those pruners and trim out the leggy branches to a good spot, by a junction of stems, so you avoid those “sticks”.

I must say, I’m getting a bit claustrophobic!  Gardeners all over are finding respite and comfort in their gardens.  They are getting fresh air and staying healthy.  They are not spreading germs, but perhaps becoming a bit of compost instead.

Here in Horizon House, however, we’re stuck in our apartments.  We cannot get into our gardens.  All we can do is laundry and empty garbage!  Thrilling, right?  We are all so READY to get back to greeting each other. AND get into our gardens.  It feels like the rebuild of the West wing, when we were not allowed in our gardens for a year!

What we found was that nature really does know how to take care of itself.  Granted a few annuals became composted in place, and a few plants suffered, but came back as soon as they received a little extra TLC.  So, fear not, your gardens await you, just like you await them!

Screen Shot 2020-04-10 at 11.50.44 AM

I thought I’d look to see if I could find some gardens for you to tour virtually.

The one of the Kew Gardens is delightful.

Or maybe you’d like to learn a bit more about Monet’s Gardens.

And finally, the magnificent “Gardens at Waddesdon Manor“.

I hope you enjoyed them!  It’s not quite as good as digging in your own dirt, but they sure are pretty!

And we’re stuck inside with very little to do.  Those who have homes with gardens are in good shape.  You can go outside and garden to your hearts content.  However, those of us who live at Horizon House, or other Retirement Communities, are confined to staying in our rooms, or sequestered in some way.    IMG_0052

So, I’ve been wondering how to let our gardening spirits gambol about. IMG_7628Here are some ideas for your hours of boredom.  Some of these ideas are really kind of cute. Others, kind of interesting.




Well, not quite!IMG_7612

In our gardens, we depend on hoses and watering cans.  Many of us are pretty decrepit (like me!).  It’s sometimes HARD to get water to our thirsty plants. But, at least we HAVE water!  We should be grateful (and are) for this greatest of blessings.

Over the last couple of years, we have also added some water “elements” to our gardens at the suggestion of our Audubon leader (June In Our Gardens).  Many gardeners have added little saucers, and various types of tiny birdbaths. They are effective.img_6058  They hydrate not only the 


birds, but bees, butterflies and other little creatures who visit our gardens. 

Of course, these receptacles need cleaning as well. The crows come to rinse their gleanings, leaving crumbs and sometimes whole slices of bread!  That’s not terribly attractive,

IMG_8580but there are those among us who dunk our donuts, so who are we to criticize?

At any rate, the water is a welcome part of our gardening, even if it is a drag (pun intended) to get it to the necessary area!

Here, where I live at Horizon House, in downtown Seattle, WA it has been “June In Our Gardens” month.  I am chairman of that “happening”, so, May (preparation month) and June have been incredibly busy for me. Needless to say, I haven’t taken the time to work on my blog AT ALL! Sorry about that!

It has been a very busy journey, but a totally satisfying one.  I have gotten so many comments about the joy the gardens here bring to our residents.  They have loved the lectures, tours and parties that brought them into the gardens. It has helped them enjoy the outdoors and the wonderful colors, smells, creatures and camaraderie they have found there.  Which was of course, the very purpose of having this grand month of total Garden immersion! I wish you could all have joined us!  I’ve included a few pictures from our gardens and also from the trips we have taken.  Be prepared…GARDENS prevail!

Here is the Calendar for the month.  As you can see, every day is occupied! Calendar — Month — 6:1:19 to 6:30:19

We started with a little lesson on how to use our grills, so we could bring our “grillables” out for dinner.  A good place to start!  A very relaxed lesson was gratefully accepted!UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2683Here are some pictures from Volunteer Park Conservatory…in the Cactus “house”.  Spectacular isn’t it?

We also ventured to the Japanese Gardens. It is so peaceful and pretty there.

There were other things going on every day, as you could see by the calendar, but I think this is enough to give you a flavor of what transpired.

And now onto July!



A number of years ago, I took over a garden that was root bound.  No one could plant a garden there.  I had not intended to garden again once I left my gardens in New Hampshire.  It was time to admire other people’s gardens.  Or so I thought!

On arrival, I got involved with the Garden Committee here at Horizon House, continuing to the position of Chair. I really enjoyed that.  Then one of the gardeners came to me to indicate she could no longer dig in her garden because it was totally root-bound by the surrounding trees.  After checking that out, we moved her to another garden that was “diggable”.  But, what would we do with the one she  was leaving?

A's Garden

I figured I could deal with that, and volunteered to take it over.  I put in some large containers, which  I planted with succulents.  It worked.  I didn’t have to dig in the garden, and the succulents did not require a ton of care from me, so all was good.

And then, the inevitable happened.  Those encroaching roots began to impact the irrigation system.  We had a few broken pipes, and garden floods. That became expensive and of course, intolerable for Horizon House. The decision was made to dig up the trees.

What happened then was actually pretty nice.  It meant we got 5  or 6 new gardens!  And in the process…mine was dug up, as were all the impacted garden plots.  We got wonderful new soil!  AND I all of a sudden had a REAL garden!  I was IMG_8548both overjoyed and appalled.  So much for my garden-less sojourn. But, I had a garden again.  It was small.  It was manageable. It was mine…

So, the containers stayed at one end of the garden.  I took stones I had salvaged from my friend Judy’s garden.  Judy, an avid gardener, died much too early and I felt this was a way to keep her in my life and honor her.  They now weave (she was a wonderful weaver, as well as gardener) through my little patch.  IMG_8560After I placed those “bones”, I found the perfect (I hope!) perennials to plant around them.  Right now, I’m watering them while they grab hold, looking fresh and healthy. I am hopeful that as time goes on, they will need less care from me, and will bloom and grow forever!

So, there it is…my journey back to the soil.  I KNEW I could never be too far away from a garden.  It is my attachment to my mother who was a fabulous gardener.  It is my connection to Irene, my life long best friend in Connecticut.  (Irene gave me a cute little birdbath with a few hummingbirds flittering around it. You’ll see it in most of the pictures of the garden.) The stones are part and parcel of Judy.  It is also my new connection to the state of Washington, where the seasons are much more forgiving.  It is my umbilical cord to the world where I exist.  I want to leave this world a better place than when I entered it.  Between my family and my gardens, I hope I’ve done that!IMG_8613


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